2016 vs. H-1B Visa 2017

What's the Difference?

In 2016, the H-1B visa program faced several challenges and controversies. There was a significant increase in the number of applications, leading to a lottery system for selection. This resulted in a highly competitive process, with many qualified applicants being denied visas. Additionally, there were concerns about abuse and fraud within the program, leading to calls for stricter regulations and reforms. In contrast, the H-1B visa program in 2017 saw some changes aimed at addressing these issues. The lottery system remained in place, but there were efforts to prioritize higher-skilled and higher-paid applicants. The government also increased scrutiny and enforcement to prevent abuse and protect American workers. Overall, while the challenges and controversies surrounding the H-1B visa program persisted in 2017, there were some attempts to improve its effectiveness and integrity.


Attribute2016H-1B Visa 2017
Visa TypeH-1BH-1B
Number of ApplicationsXXXX
Application ProcessXXXXXXXX
Eligibility CriteriaXXXXXXXX
Employer SponsorshipXXXXXXXX
Job CategoriesXXXXXXXX
Salary RequirementsXXXXXXXX

Further Detail


The H-1B visa program is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialized occupations. Each year, the number of H-1B visas issued is subject to a cap, and the attributes of the program can vary from year to year. In this article, we will compare the attributes of the H-1B visa program in 2016 and 2017, highlighting the key differences and similarities.

1. Visa Cap

In 2016, the H-1B visa cap was set at 65,000 visas, with an additional 20,000 visas reserved for individuals who held advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. This meant that a total of 85,000 visas were available for the fiscal year. In 2017, the cap remained the same, with 65,000 visas for regular applicants and an additional 20,000 for advanced degree holders. Therefore, there was no change in the visa cap between the two years.

2. Application Process

The application process for the H-1B visa program underwent some changes between 2016 and 2017. In 2016, employers were required to submit their applications during the first week of April, and a random lottery was conducted if the number of applications exceeded the visa cap. However, in 2017, the lottery system was modified. Instead of conducting a random lottery for all applications, a computer-generated selection process was implemented to prioritize applications for individuals with advanced degrees. This change aimed to increase the chances of advanced degree holders receiving an H-1B visa.

3. Prevailing Wage

The prevailing wage is the minimum wage that must be paid to H-1B visa holders. In 2016, the Department of Labor determined the prevailing wage based on the job location and the level of experience required for the position. However, in 2017, the Department of Labor introduced a new rule that significantly increased the minimum wage for H-1B visa holders. The new rule aimed to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers and protect the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions. This change had a significant impact on employers sponsoring H-1B visas, as they had to allocate higher wages to meet the new requirements.

4. Visa Extensions

In 2016, H-1B visa holders were eligible for a maximum initial period of three years, which could be extended for an additional three years, totaling a maximum of six years. However, in 2017, there were discussions about potential changes to the visa extension policy. The Trump administration proposed a rule that would have made it more difficult for H-1B visa holders to obtain visa extensions beyond the six-year limit. Although the proposed rule faced legal challenges and was not implemented in 2017, it created uncertainty and concerns among H-1B visa holders and their employers.

5. Premium Processing

Premium processing is an optional service that allows employers to expedite the processing of H-1B visa petitions. In 2016, premium processing was available for all H-1B visa applications, and the processing time was guaranteed within 15 calendar days. However, in 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) temporarily suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension aimed to reduce the overall processing time for H-1B visas and prioritize the adjudication of pending cases. The suspension of premium processing in 2017 had a significant impact on employers who relied on the expedited service to meet their staffing needs.


While the H-1B visa program remained subject to the same cap in both 2016 and 2017, there were notable differences in the application process, prevailing wage requirements, potential visa extensions, and availability of premium processing. These changes reflect the evolving nature of the H-1B visa program and the efforts to balance the needs of U.S. employers with the protection of U.S. workers. It is important for employers and foreign workers to stay informed about the latest updates and requirements of the H-1B visa program to ensure compliance and maximize their chances of success.

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